Monday, February 3, 2014

2014 'Shine Country Classic at Barber

Friday

We finished putting our suspension together and the car on the trailer at 4am on Friday morning.  Dick Anderson had found a set of beat up shock bodies that he was able to modify to fit in OLPD (Thanks Dick!).  We had the "new" shocks installed that were incredibly stiff and the upper a-arms that had been shortened by 3/4".  The car looked almost silly coming off the trailer with the wheels tucked up into the fenders and what we estimated to be 6 degrees of negative camber.  We unloaded it from the trailer at Barber Friday night and tried cruising around the paddock.  The steering was really wonky, as we realized that shortening the arms also affected the toe by almost 1-1/2".

After adjusting the ride height to something a little more reasonable, we decided that we should go back to the stock a-arms.  The stock arms gave us a much-more-reasonable 1 degree of negative camber.  Not the 2-3 that we would have preferred, but closer than the 6 or so that the shortened arms were giving us.  The toe also was shifted back to about 1/16" of toe out in the process, so we didn't need to adjust it.  We put a pair of the new RE11a's on the front and the partially worn Azeni's on the back.

Time not spent on the car was split between seeking shelter in the heated RV and assembling the dome.  My teammates then banished me to the trailer to sleep because of my snoring.

Saturday

Saturday started out well.  Mark went out first and racked up some extremely fast laps.  We were running second for a little while after the flag dropped until some of the faster cars started to catch us.  Mark got us a black flag with a spin, but we got a wave through since it was our first.

Britton went out next and managed to go 4-off about halfway through his stint.  Our penalty was singing "Sweet Home Alabama".  There was a news crew filming.  My apologies to anyone that dares listen.  We're at about 1:15 into the clip.


Chase and Nate fortunately had relatively uneventful stints in the car.  My turn was next, and after many laps of getting used the the track I was able to start putting some faster laps down.  I parried for several laps with the #150 Porsche, which we seemed evenly matched with.  The shifting had seemed difficult when I got in the car, and seemed to get progressively worse as I was on the track.  By the end of my stint I was running the track entirely in 4th to avoid shifting.

Barber is a very different experience than the handful of other tracks I've driven on.  The "line" seems much less rigidly defined, with lots of room for alternate approaches.  This makes passing easier as going off the line didn't seem to carry as big a penalty.  The track feels much more fluid.  You can carry significant speed through most of the corners.

Todd went in for our final stint of Saturday.  He'd been humbled a bit by getting a pair of black flags while driving the Turbo Schnitzel Integra earlier in day.  His turn in OLPD went smoothly.

We were fairly exhausted, since the car ran pretty well in 4th we figured we'd try bleeding the clutch and other troubleshooting in the morning.

Sunday

We tried bleeding the clutch to see if the shifting improved.  The pedal had week return, but it did seem to be pushing the clutch arm.  Mark went in the car and reported that the shifting problem remained.  The clutch was only partially disengaging and shifts required good rev matching to pull off.  There was some light rain which gave Mark a huge advantage over the other cars before the pavement began to dry out.  We had put on the 4 remaining New RE11a's for maximum rain advantage.

Here's some footage of us coming onto the track from the rear facing camera on the Diesel Chevette.  We show up about 2:30 into the clip:


We continued with the same driver order.  Britton finished the morning session before the 11-12 quiet hour.  Chase and Nate drove without incident, with Chase making good use of heel-toe to make smooth shifts.

It started to rain towards the end of my stint, which was fun before the windshield started fogging up.  After a few laps of following brake lights I brought the car in.  Todd hopped in along with a generous helping of Fog-X.  It didn't help too much as he made it to the checkered by wiping the windshield with his glove to see.

We ended up 18th in the final standings.  Relatively respectable for us.  No major downtime, but long and frequent pit stops were our liability.  We weren't aiming for a podium spot, so we switched drivers so that everyone got some seat time on each day.

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